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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Language Assimilation through Listening

December 31, 2009

In a recent thread Cantotango asked whether I could describe my experiences with the Tomatis method. It’s been 12 years, so I can really only remember the outcome, not many details of the sessions. Like Steve, Alfred Tomatis believed that you can only learn to speak a language through being able to hear it. What you can’t hear you can’t pronounce, but you can train your ear to hear. It needs to be stressed that I didn’t do the language assimilation programme and that, although the treatment was worth every penny, it wasn’t cheap. Following Steve’s advice to listen, listen, listen may be the better option for most people keen on learning foreign languages. Here is now first my recollection and then later a bit more about Language Assimilation.

I had bought two of Dr A Tomatis’s books , “Pourquoi Mozart?” and “Nous sommes tous nés polyglottes” just prior to reading in a biography about Gérard Depardieu that it was Dr Tomatis who had enabled him to overcome his aphasia (?) and find his voice for the stage. I believe, Depardieu had been a sort of juvenile delinquent but showed an awesome promise to become a good actor, he just couldn’t speak on stage.

A year or so later something peculiar happened to me. For some time I had noticed a slight loss of hearing in one ear and then I suddenly lost the power of speech in my French adult education class: not a word would come over my lips. I could speak English and German, but the minute I tried to talk French in class my throat closed up. It was most embarrassing. It was clearly psychosomatic, and I never found out what was behind that, I simply stopped going to French classes.

When I came across my Tomatis books, I decided to investigate matters a bit further. Going to Paris was out of the question. Luckily enough there were two Tomatis Centres near where I lived, one in London, one in Lewes. I opted for the one in Lewes and the “general tuning-up” treatment. The Centre’s main focus was on treating autism in children.

From what I remember, I had three blocks of appointment with a set period between each block. The initial assessment involved a detailed interview, vocal and hearing tests (precursor of brain-mapping, I suppose). The treatment itself being exposed to music played through the Electronic Ear – a Tomatis specific contraption. It was an unbelievably powerful and moving experience to have selected Gregorian chants and/or pieces of Mozart trickling into my brain. The therapist would set the machine according to the patient’s listening graph to address specific areas of interest.

During parts of the session we would be encouraged to do jigsaw puzzles or draw or simply rest; reading and other brain work were discouraged. There were times when I would fall into a very deep sleep, at other times tears would roll down my face. The most amazing thing, though, was that I started to draw. Normally my level is matchstick men without the Lowry genius. I still have those drawings and still can’t believe that I did them. Oh, yes, and another thing: I started becoming a bit left-handed during those drawing sessions and have since then continued using my left side more and more.

The third block included another assessment which was carried out partly by Dr Tomatis: he happened to be in the UK to assess a young psychologist who had flown in from Malaysia, I think. Ooh, I was so nervous to be sat across from the good doctor himself! I was very pleased though that I could understand what he was discussing in French with my wonderful therapist and I even managed to say a couple of words back in French.

The following excerpts are taken from various websites I found when googling for updates of the Tomatis method (Dr Tomatis died in 2003). The first is in English and comes from the Belgian treatment centre. The second one is the synopsis of the French book "L'écoute, c'est la vie" by my then therapist, Patrick Dumas de la Roque.

Learning foreign languages more easily

As a result of ongoing globalisation, command of foreign languages is very important. The gift for languages is first and foremost the ability to adjust one’s ear to the frequencies of a foreign language.

The ear is normally receptive to a wide range of frequencies and can detect a variety of rhythms. During development, however, the ear adjusts to a way of hearing that is conditioned by its mother tongue. Different languages prefer different frequency ranges. When speaking, the English use frequencies from 2,000 to 12,000 Hertz in particular, the French frequencies from 100 to 300 Hz and 1,000 to 2,000 Hz, the majority of Slavonic speakers from 100 to 12,000 Hz, and German speakers from 100 to 3,000 Hz. As a result, there is an “English“, a “French“, a “Slavonic“, or a “German“ ear, as people can only speak frequencies that they hear (Tomatis rule).

It is therefore easy to understand why the French for example find it difficult to learn other languages. For them, and for the Italians, the preferred frequency ranges of the language have a rather narrow bandwidth. People from countries in which Slavonic languages are spoken are, on the other hand, at an advantage. The frequency ranges of the approximately 20 Slavonic languages cover a greater bandwidth. This explains why the Eastern Europeans have a gift for languages.

In order to be able to learn a language well, therefore, one first has to hear the preferred frequency ranges of a language well.

In addition, each language has a typical latency, which is necessary to utter a syllable and hear oneself.

The Brain Activator “opens“ the ear to a foreign language. With specially designed programmes the ear can accustom itself to frequencies, rhythm and intonation. The Tomatis listening training programme makes it possible to learn a language faster and speak it better.

L'écoute, c'est la vie by Patrick Dumas de la Roque

Nous avons des oreilles qui entendent, mais savons-nous vraiment écouter ? Les découvertes du Dr Tomatis sur l'importance de l'oreille et de l'écoute ont fini par lui faire dire que " l'homme est une oreille en totalité ".
En d'autres termes, la vocation ou l'accomplissement de l'homme est d'être une véritable antenne à l'écoute de l'Univers. Savoir écouter est la condition première à toutes les situations, qu'elles soient relationnelles, d'apprentissage, de créativité ou autres. Dans cette dynamique, l'oreille tient le rôle de chef d'orchestre qui met tout notre corps et tous nos sens à l'écoute. Ce livre nous donne de nouvelles clés pour comprendre l'origine de nombreux blocages et échecs.
En effet, l'acquisition de l'écoute est longue, délicate et souvent perturbée par les traumatismes qui jalonnent notre enfance et qui auront des conséquences sur notre développement personnel et professionnel. Cet ouvrage se présente également comme un guide pratique des différents champs d'application de la thérapie de l'écoute du Dr Tomatis. Il permettra à chacun de découvrir ce que peut apporter une telle démarche pour progresser dans des domaines aussi variés que la concentration, la mémorisation, la communication, le chant, l'intégration des langues vivantes et l'équilibre.

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bungalow software aphasia

News report on Aphasia &

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What is Broca’s Speech?

By Kristie Leong MD on December 30th, 2009
Broca’s speech is a certain type of speech pattern that occurs after brain injury or stroke. Here’s what you need to know about this speech and language disorder.

Do you know someone who’s had a stroke and has problems forming words or complete sentences? This type of speech problem is known by the medical term of aphasia. Aphasia occurs when a portion of the brain associated with speech is damaged or destroyed. Damage to these areas can come not only from strokes, but also from head injury, tumor, or degeneration of the brain due to Alzheimer’s disease. Some people with disease or injury to the speech centers of the brain develop Broca’s speech – a type of speech pattern that comes from damage to Broca’s area of the brain.

Where is Broca’s Area?

Broca’s area is located in the frontal lobe in the front of the brain. Damage to this area causes a distinct type of speech pattern called Broca’s speech or non-fluent aphasia. Although people with this problem can understand the speech of others, they have a problem forming sentences and usually speak in short, choppy phrases – often omitting words. For example, a person with Broca’s speech might say, “Ready dinner” when their intention is to say “I’m ready to eat dinner”. Fortunately, in most cases they’re able to articulate well enough to get their point across!

Another Type of Aphasia

Broca’s speech differs from another type of aphasia due to damage to another portion of the brain – the temporal lobe. Damage to the portion of the temporal lobe known as Wernicke’s area causes a type of speech problem known as fluent aphasia. When a person with fluent aphasia talks they usually speak in very long sentences and include unnecessary and inappropriate words and words that have no meaning. In contrast to Broca’s speech where speech patterns can be more easily deciphered, people who have damage to Wernicke’s area are more challenging to understand.

Can Broca’s Speech Be Improved with Treatment?

It depends upon the cause. If it’s due to a tumor that can be removed surgically, there’s a good chance of normal speech recovery

. If Broca’s speech is coming from a degenerative process in the brain, speech restoration is less likely. Most commonly Broca’s speech comes from a stroke where blood flow to Broca’s area is temporarily reduced. In these cases, partial or complete recover may occur over time, but most people are left with some lingering speech abnormalities. The best treatment is intensive speech therapy which should be started as soon as possible after Broca’s speech develops. A speech pathologist can help a person with Broca’s speech recover some of their language fluency using speech retraining exercises.

Broca’s Speech: The Bottom Line

Broca’s speech is most commonly seen after a stroke and involves the frontal lobe of the brain. With time and intensive speech retraining, some people with this type of speech can recover at least some of their former language function.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

SKMC Surgeons Perform the first State of the Art Awake Brain Surgery for a 38-year Old Patient

Posted on: Monday December 28 , 2009 12:35:00 PM (GMT+4)

  • Surgery First of Its Kind in the Gulf Region
The patient was admitted with several epileptic fits, post-critical transient aphasia and hemiparesis. Investigations including CT scan and MRI of the brain showed a left frontal cortico-subcortical tumor, which is in the brain area responsible for the speech. A biopsy was then done on this lesion; and the histopathology report showed an Astrocytoma which is an intermediate tumor between benign and malignant.

Dr. Maher Mansour, Consultant Neurosurgeon who performed this state-of-the-art surgery, stated “The first line treatment of this kind of tumors is the surgical excision or at least partial excision of the lesion in order to reduce its volume and the mass effect on the brain”.

“The surgery for this 38 year old patient was conditioned by the risk of post-op aphasia (inability to speak). For that reason, it was indicated to do this procedure with the patient awake, in order to assess him while we do electrical stimulation on the region we wanted to remove ensuring that no cells from the normal brain is removed”, Dr. Mansour added.

The surgery was made possible because of the multi-disciplinary team involved, which was led by Dr. Maher Mansour, who practices surgery in SKMC since coming from France in 2006. In addition, Dr. John Mansfield, Chairman of Anesthesia at SKMC, Dr. Adham El Sayed were amongst the team as well as Dr. Alan Smit, Dr. Peter Kelsall and Dr Sayed Zaidi who provided the patient with local anesthesia and conscious sedation.

During the surgery, assessment of the patient speech through very specific tests repeated three times for each stimulated area (gyrus) was performed very professionally by the speech therapy team, Mershen Pillay and Fatima-Nouzha Ishak. Technical assistance for the cortical stimulation was also assured during the surgery.

Dr. Mansour added, “The patient tolerated this 6 hours procedure very well and he was speaking and moving on the OR table after the last suture”.

The post-operative images of the patient brain showed that the tumor was totally removed and the brain was under normal pressure. However, the histopathology analysis of the tumor showed Grade 3 Astrocytoma, therefore the patient needed complementary radiation therapy which he decided to have in his home country, India.

The patient was discharged from SKMC 10 days after the surgery. Staff members from intensive care unit, social work, nursing, pharmacy were also significantly involved during the patient’s hospital stay.

“We are pleased that we were able to totally remove the tumor from the brain and that the patient is currently doing well speaking and moving freely with no pain”, Dr. Mansour added. “We are proud that we expanded our capabilities to perform this brain surgery for an awake patient successfully at SKMC which is considered the first of its kind in the gulf region”.

“This attainment demonstrates the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company – SEHA and SEHA commitment to delivering world class healthcare services to our patients. In addition, it demonstrates SKMC and Cleveland Clinic’s commitment to improving the lives of patients through innovation,” said Carl Stanifer, SEHA CEO. “SKMC is setting new standards of care and building patient trust in the healthcare system. I’m extremely proud of the team who worked tirelessly to save this patient’s life”.

Dr. Tej Maini, CEO of SKMC said, “We are proud of our team who performed this successful and quite challenging surgery although there was no guarantee that the total excision of the tumor was going to be ultimately successful, given its extreme advanced nature and sensitive location in the brain. It’s important to emphasize how remarkable it was to have more than 20 people working together in such a coordinated and orchestrated way to ensure the best possible outcome for this patient. At the same time, one of the most rewarding experiences for us is to see this patient recover after the removal of the tumor and return home in a healthier condition with normal vocalization”.

“This demonstrates SKMC and Cleveland Clinic’s commitment to embrace state-of-the-art medical and surgical practices that allow our surgeons to advance the standard of care for their patients in a regionally reputed medical center offering the best treatment and facilities”, Dr. Maini said.

Dr. Atul Mehta, Chief Medical Officer of SKMC, said that “Like other rare and cutting-edge surgeries, the surgeons at SKMC constantly endeavor to innovate and create new avenues of patient care by pioneering procedures across the UAE”.
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Media Morsel – Music Therapy and Aphasia

This is a good one for those of you interested in neurologic music therapy or neurological rehabilitation. Music therapy is effective in treating many symptoms of stroke. Music therapists might address motor and gait issues, grief and other emotional issues, and communicative disabilities such as aphasia and apraxia. As you will hear in this news bit, music is processed in many areas of the brain, providing alternate neurological pathways through which one may process and express language. Enjoy!

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Slowly progressive aphasia: three cases with language, memory, CT and PET data.

D Kempler, E J Metter, W H Riege, C A Jackson, D F Benson, and W R Hanson
School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
Three cases of slowly progressive speech and language disturbance were studied at various points post onset (three, five and 15 years respectively). Language, neuropsychological and brain imaging (computer tomography and positron emission tomography) evaluations were completed on all three patients. The data suggest that the syndrome of "progressive aphasia": 1) does not involve a uniform symptom complex; 2) does not necessarily develop into a full blown dementia syndrome; 3) varies greatly in rate of progression from case to case; 4) is associated with normal brain structure (on computer tomography); and 5) is associated with abnormal left temporal lobe metabolism as measured by fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET). One patient had histological findings consistent with Alzheimer's disease at necropsy.
Complete Article
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Expressive aphasia

Aphasia is a disorder that affects how people communicate. It affects how a person understands or uses words, but it does not affect their intelligence. They often find it hard to find the right word or have difficulty speaking. In some instances, they have difficulty understanding what someone is saying, find it hard to read and comprehend words, or have difficulty writing words and numbers. Aphasia generally affects older adults more than younger, and it is especially prevalent in those who have had a stroke. There are a number of different types of aphasia, including expressive aphasia.

Expressive aphasia affects how a person communicates with others. They have no problem reading or understanding others, but they aren’t capable of communicating their thoughts. They know exactly whatthey want to say, but physically forming the words or writing them down is very difficult. They may not be able to come up with the words they want to use or they may inadvertently use the wrong word in conversation. This often leads to frustration and emotional stress, especially if they condition does not improve over time.

Expressive aphasia, like all types of aphasia, can be caused by several different things. Generally, aphasia is caused by an injury to the brain or by a stroke that damages the parts of the brain that handle language and communication. One study shows that up to 40 percent of all stroke patients will develop some form of aphasia. However, aphasia can also be caused by several other things, including dementia, brain infection, Alzheimer’s disease, or a brain tumor. In a few rare cases, aphasia is a symptom of epilepsy or another type of neurological disorder.

All forms of aphasia can vary in their severity. Some cases are very mild. In the case of expressive aphasia, a person may occasionally grope for the words they want to say or can’t remember how to spell a word when writing. In severe cases, they may always find it difficult to communicate their ideas and may have to really work at speaking or writing. Often, severe expressive aphasia leads to a person withdrawing from social interaction and can lead to severe depression.

Expressive aphasia is usually diagnosed while a doctor is treating brain injury, a tumor, or a stroke. In some cases, it is very easy to tell when a patient has expressive aphasia, but in some mild cases, it isn’t. A doctor may ask the patient a number of questions. He may also hold up objects and ask the patient to name them. This can help determine just how severe the expressive aphasia is.

There are several ways of treating expressive aphasia, but these treatment options depend on the underlying cause, the age of the patient, and how severely the communication section of the brain was damaged. First, the underlying cause may be treated. Removing a brain tumor, for example, may cause the patient’s aphasia to get much better. For those who have had a stroke, working with a speech pathologist can help. The pathologist will engage the patient in different speech exercises and may help teach the person how to communicate in other ways. This may involve using flash cards or other non-spoken forms of communication. They may also draw or write on paper if that’s easier for them.

If you suffer from expressive aphasia, there are several things to remember. First, carry a small card with you to show to people that explains your condition and what it means. This way, they will not become frustrated or think that you are incapable of forming thoughts. Also remember to keep calm and to speak slowly. Getting frustrated with your disability will not help anyone.

Related information

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Speech Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injury

Posted December 25th, 2009 by admin

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can cause about a lot of speech and language disorders that would entail the need of speech therapy. That’s why the role of speech therapy in the rehabilitation process of a traumatic brain injury patient is very vital.
TBI Speech And Language Problems
A person may have loss of consciousness after a traumatic brain injury. This loss of consciousness can vary from seconds, minutes, hours, days, months or even years. The longer you are out of consciousness, the more severe your injury is. After a traumatic brain injury, you may suffer secondary consequences, which are considered to be more lethal and dangerous than the primary injury.
Some of these secondary consequences include damage to your brain’s meninges, traumatic hematoma, increased intracranial pressure, herniation, hyperventilation, ischemic brain damage, and cerebral vasospasm. When these brain damages occur, they tend to affect parts of your brain that are responsible for speech and language processing and production, thus you get speech and language problems.
Traumatic brain injuries can cause you permanent or temporary memory loss, orientation problems, lesser cognitive performance or slower processing of thought, attention problems, deterioration of skills in basic counting, spelling and writing. You can also have Aphasia, where you have a loss of words.
Traumatic brain injury can also cause you difficulty in reading simple and complex information. Your naming skills, of everyday seen objects, familiar others can also be affected. It can also bring about dysarthria, or problems with movement, that can cause you to have shaky movements leading to difficulty speaking and writing.
Speech Therapy For Traumatic Brain Injury Patients
Treatment for traumatic brain injury patients can be classified into three categories. There are different treatments for early, middle and late stages of a traumatic brain injury. There are also compensatory strategies taught for a TBI patient.
Early Stage Treatment
Treatment during the early stage of a traumatic brain injury would focus more on medical stabilization. A speech therapist would also deal more on establishing a reliable means of communication between the patient and the therapist. The patient is also taught how to indicate yes or no, when asked.
Another goal is for the patient to be able to make simple requests through gestures, nods, and eye blinks. The behavioral and mental condition of the patient is also treated. During the early stage, sensorimotor stimulation is also done. Where in the therapist would heighten and stimulate the patient’s sense of sight, smell, hearing and touch.
Middle Stage Treatment
The main goal during the middle stage treatment is for the patient to develop an increased control of the environment and independence. The adequacy of patient’s interaction to the environment is also increased. The therapist should also stimulate the patient to have organized and purposeful thinking. The uses of environmental prompts are to be diminished during this phase.
A lot of activities focusing on cognitive skills like perception, attention, memory, abstract thinking, organization and planning, and judgment, are also given.
Late Stage Treatment
During the late stage of treatment, the speech therapists goal is for the patient to be able to develop complete independence and functionality. Environment control is eliminated and the patient is taught compensatory strategies to cope with problems that have become permanent.
Some of these compensatory strategies are the use of visual imagery, writing down main ideas, rehearsal of spoken/written material, and asking for clarifications or repetitions when in the state of confusion.
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Aphasias Speech And Language Problems Targeted For Speech Therapy

Posted Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Aphasia can bring about a lot of speech and language problems that are to be treated for speech therapy. The kind of speech and language problems brought by Aphasia would highly depend on the kind of Aphasia that you may have.
Brocas Aphasia
Broca’s Aphasia is also known as motor aphasia. You can obtain this, if you damage your brains frontal lobe, particularly at the frontal part of the lobe at your language-dominant side.
If Brocas Aphasia is your case, then you may have complete mutism or inability to speak. In some cases you may be able to utter single-word statements or a full sentence, but constructing such would entail you great effort.
You may also omit small words, like conjunctions (but, and, or) and articles (a, an, the). Due to these omissions, you may produce a “telegraph” quality of speech. Usually, your hearing comprehension is not affected , so you are able to comprehend conversation, others speech and follow commands.
Difficulty in writing is also evident, since you may experience weakness on your bodys right side. You also get an impaired reading ability along with difficulty in finding the right words when speaking. People with this type of aphasia may be depressed and frustrated, because of their awareness of their difficulties.
Wernickes Aphasia
When your brains language-dominant areas temporal lobe is damaged, you get Wernicke’s aphasia. If you have this kind of aphasia, you may speak in uninterrupted, long, sentences; the catch is, the words you use are usually unnecessary or at times made-up.
You can also have difficulty understanding others speech, to the extent of having the inability to comprehend spoken language in any way. You also have a diminished reading ability. Your writing ability may be retained, but what you write may seem to be abnormal.
In contrast with Brocas Aphasia, Wernickes Aphasia doesnt manifest physical symptoms like right-sided weakness. Also, with this kind of Aphasia, you are not aware of your language errors.
Global Aphasia
This kind of aphasia is obtained when you have widespread damage on language areas of your brains left hemisphere. Consequently, all your fundamental language functions are affected. However, some areas can be severely affected than other areas of your brain.
It may be the case that you have difficulty speaking but you are able to write well. You may also experience weakness and numbness on the right side of your body.
Conduction Aphasia
This kind is also known as Associative Aphasia. It is a somewhat uncommon kind, in which you have the inability to repeat sentences, phrases and words. Your speech fluency is reasonably unbroken. There are times that you may correct yourself and skip or repeat some words.
Even though you are capable of understanding spoken language, you can still have difficulty finding the right words to use to describe an object or a person. This conditions effect on your reading and writing skills can also vary. Just like other types of aphasia, you can have sensory loss or right-sided weakness.
Nominal Or Anomic Aphasia
This kind of aphasia would primarily influence your ability to obtain the right name for an object or person. Consequently, rather than naming an object, you may resort to describing it. Your reading skills, writing ability, hearing comprehension, and repetition are not damaged, except by this inability to get the right name.
Your may have fluent speech, except for the moments that you pause to recall the correct name. Physical symptoms like sensory loss and one-sided body weakness, may or may not be present.
Transcortical Aphasia
This kind is caused by the damage of language areas on your left hemisphere just outside your primary language areas. There are three types of this aphasia: transcortical sensory, transcortical motor, and mixed transcortical. All of these types are differentiated from others by your ability to repeat phrases, words, or sentences.
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Program for Online Support and Practice Groups

Announcement - Aphasia Solutions Network Online Small Group Program

We are quite energized here at the new home office about our next two newsletters. We will be discussing the value of well-designed and well-managed small group work in aphasia recovery. In particular, we will roll out our new Aphasia Solutions Online Group Program. These small groups will provide tremendous amounts of practice, peer support, treatment and creative ideas at affordable costs in easy to use formats. Groups established to date include: The Woman's Aphasia Club; The Men's Aphasia Bootcamp; Oral Motor Coordination for Apraxia; Support Groups; Word Play; and Introduction to Our Software Group. If you would like to pre-register for sessions, contact Bill Connors at 724-494-2534 or at .

Stay tuned......

The Men's and Woman's Aphasia Group

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Aphasia Solutions Network News - 12/25/09

The Aphasia Solutions Network ( ASN ) is a rapidly growing network consisting of patients, caregivers, speech/language pathologists, and institutions who collaborate or partner with us in our efforts to dramatically improve aphasia rehabilitation. From time to time we enjoy spotlighting one of our collaborating partners in the ASN.

Paul Berger and Stephanie Mensh have received numerous awards and accolades for their determined and steady work for stroke survivors. For example, Paul was recently named Virginia Advocate of the Year by the American Heart Association ( ) . In addition to authoring very beneficial publications and presentations, they offer an amazing website loaded with free information, ideas and tips. I highly recommend that you visit their website, , and register for their free monthly newsletter. Below is information provided for this newsletter by Paul and Stephanie.

FREE Monthly Newsletter & 7-part course!

On you can subscribe to FREE Monthly Newsletter & 7-part course! And find all of the following and more...

"This web site is a great resource!" - R.M., Survivor, Toronto, Canada

* Articles & tips for survivors, caregivers & professionals

* Books & dictionaries for aphasia & speech

* Readings to build self-esteem

* References you won't find anywhere else!

* Questions & Answers

* Excerpts from our books & tapes

* Details on speeches & workshops

* Archives of Monthly Newsletter

* Paul-tested products:

* Grooming

* Kitchen

* Physical & mobility

Here are just a few examples...many more on!

Free Articles & Tips on Overcoming Aphasia

* Tips to Maximize Stroke & Aphasia Recovery

* Ten Tips for Communicating When Your Spouse Has Aphasia

* Setting Goals to Recover from Stroke

* Setting Goals From the Caregiver's Perspective

Aphasia & Speech Disability Tools

* Dictionary Word-Finding Tool

* Visual Dictionaries

References & Resources





Helpful Products

* Floss with one hand

* Electric jar opener for one hand

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Paul & Stephanie

Paul Berger & Stephanie Mensh

Award-winning speakers, authors of

"How to Conquer the World With One Hand...And An Attitude"

Subscribe to free monthly newsletter at

Phone/Fax: 703-241-2375

P.O. Box 2644, Merrifield, VA 22116


Ph: 703-241-2375

P.O. Box 2644, Merrifield, VA 22116

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Early speech therapy benefits stroke patients significantly

22 December 2009

In an Australian first, a joint project between Curtin University of Technology and the State Health Research Advisory Council (SHRAC) has shown that early intense therapy can significantly benefit the communication recovery of stroke patients.

Dr Erin Godecke, from Curtin's School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, who completed this research for her PhD, said intense early stage therapy could also reduce the need for future health services.

"Stroke survivors often suffer a breakdown in their communication abilities, known as aphasia, and receive very limited therapy for this condition," she said.

"Aphasia affects a person's speech production, comprehension, and reading and writing abilities which can be extremely frustrating.

"Usual care intervention for aphasia in the early recovery phase involves an average of only 11 minutes of therapy per week.

"Rehabilitation for this condition is ad-hoc and usually takes place later in the recovery process, losing valuable time in the neurorecovery process.

This research has found that patients who receive intense therapy at an early stage after a stroke use more words and have a better vocabulary in addition to having improved comprehension scores and verbal output."

As part of Dr Godecke's ongoing study, stroke survivors were given five hours of therapy per week on either a one-on-one or small group basis.

"Stroke survivors with aphasia can be left with severe disabilities and are up to three times more likely to suffer from depression," she said.

"Not all stroke survivors are assessed for communication difficulties at an early stage and as a result, these survivors do not have the opportunity to take the best advantage of the pivotal early neuro-recovery period.

"Our study has found that the treatment patients receive improves their communication abilities and also helps their quality of life.

Dr Godecke's PhD research was the pilot study that led to the early intervention program funded by SHRAC.

"Our goal is to improve stroke services in WA and provide stroke survivors with the right intervention, in the right place, at the right time," she said.

"Early intensive treatment for aphasia is not being investigated anywhere in Australia, and patients can benefit from using their communication abilities in a supportive treatment environment.

"The program encourages a 'use it' or 'lose it' approach to intervention."

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

PART OF Paul & Stephanie's December Stroke Survivor Newsletter

NEWS: RESEARCH on Stroke Recovery & Rehabilitation:
Exercise Lowers Risk of Stroke

A new study of over 3,000 people in their late 60's living in New York City showed that over a 9-year period, men who participated in moderate to heavy exercise--jogging, swimming, tennis--were least likely to have a stroke, abouthalf the rate of the 41% of study participants who reported no physical activity.

The study authors from Columbia University Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia, suggest that lack of physical activity is common among urban seniors and increasing their activity should be a public health goal.

The study did not show significant benefits of moderate-to-heavy exercise among the women participants, or of light exercise, as in other studies. However, the authors noted that this may be due to the study limits.

To read a summary, visit:

To read the abstract:

For additional resources to help you find information on medical, health, rehabilitation, recovery, self-empowerment, and more, we have collected our favorite links at:


Contact us at or 703-241-2375. Special rates for newsletter & web:!

*** Intensive Aphasia Therapy News ***
Group Session Online

As the readers of my newsletter know, I am continuing speech therapy with Bill Connors at the Pittsburgh Aphasia Treatment, Research and Education Center (PATREC).

I am in Virginia and Bill is in Pittsburgh, but I see him 3 times a week over the Internet using my webcam on Skype or ooVoo. I set my goals and the pace. I have lots of homework, most that I do alone on my own schedule.

This month, the group sessions are in full swing. I participate in 2 different groups, each meets once a week with full video-camera links, so we see all the participants at their computers. We practice speaking by each sharing a tip on living with stroke or aphasia. We also work on apraxia, pronouncing the whole word, and spelling by playing the old game where each player must think of a word that begins with the last letter of the previous player's word. For example, Bill says, "cake"--the last letter is "e", so I say "eat"--the next person must find a word starting with "t"--maybe "truck"-- and around we go, learning, improving, and having fun with people in 6 different towns.

My friends tell me they are impressed with my improvement. I enjoy Bill's innovative approach and tools at

For a complimentary consumer Q&A fact sheet, contact Bill Connors at or phone 724-494-2534.

Paying Bills with One Hand & Aphasia

This weekend's snow storm made me think about one more good reason to learn to pay bills on line. After my stroke, writing checks was difficult. I lost my ability to write with my right hand, my new left-handed printing was slow and sloppy, and my aphasia affected my spelling.

I started using Quicken many years ago. Stephanie helped me set up our routine bills and account numbers. I entered the specific payment amount, and printed out checks. I used a paperweight to hold down the bill so I could tear off the slip that was mailed back. I learned to stuff the slip and check into the envelope with one hand, and stick on the return address label and stamp. I paid bills twice a month, and each time I spent a few hours, even with Quicken. I felt good because I could help with this chore.

About a year ago, I switched to online banking. I still use Quicken so I can organize my budget and expenses for taxes. Quicken has an easy software internet connection with most banks.

First, Stephanie helped me set up online access with my bank. Then, we edited Quicken to be sure the correct addresses were entered. Then, I click on the bill to pay, type in the dollar amount, and send the bill off to be paid. No more checks to print, no slips to tear off, no
envelopes or stamps. And no trips to the mailbox or post office in bad weather!

Now, paying bills is very fast with one hand and aphasia. I feel great doing this by myself. If I
can do it, you can do it, too.

Other insights and tips for coping with life and taking control of your recovery after stroke are available on my website at

Do you have a tip to share? Send it to me at for a free gift if we use it.
Stroke/Aphasia Reading problems?

After a stroke, many people have reading and other language problems, known as "aphasia." Hearing a sentence read aloud helps to understand it. You can hear this newsletter read
aloud while each word is highlighted on the computer screen with the FREE text reader software described at:

© Paul Berger and Stephanie Mensh
Authors of "How to Conquer the World With One Hand...
And an Attitude"
Positive Power Publishing
P.O. Box 2644,
Merrifield, VA 22116
Email: or


Part of Positive Power Publishing
P.O. Box 2644
Merrifield, Virginia
PART OF Paul & Stephanie's December Stroke Survivor NewsletterSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

The National Aphasia Association's Fall Newsletter

October-December 2009
The NAA's Fall 2009 E-Newsletter

Whether you are staying in from the snow or out and about visiting family during this holiday season, we hope that you will find the time to enjoy our gift to you - the NAA Fall Newsletter!

Inside you will get to know our three wonderful groups of the month, join us on the exciting trips that we have made through these chilly months, and share in a few bits of fantastic news!

Also, for those of you who are still stumped on what to get your loved ones for the holidays, there's nothing like something directly from the heart. One way to not only make someone feel special, but also help others at the same time, is to make a donation, of course! If you are interested in donating to the NAA in honor or memory of a special person in your life, please see the links below.

To begin reading the Fall Newsletter, curl up with a cup of cocoa and click here or paste into your web browser.

We here at the NAA would like to thank you all for another special year and we look forward to the next. Our greatest gift is the relationship we share with you.
Happy Holidays,
Ellayne Ganzfried, Executive Director
Amy Coble, Information & Administrative Coordinator
The National Aphasia Association

Online Donations
Click the picture above to make a safe online donation to the National Aphasia Association through Network for Good!
Mail-in Donations
Click the picture above for a PDF form that you may print and send with your donation by check, credit card, cash or money order.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

A 60 yrs old post stroke has place in low sodium diet/soft diet with dysphagia aphasia but with good appetite?

I’m not sure exactly what your question is but if you are wondering about dysphagia or aphasia, I’d be happy to help. I can only comment on the fact that a good appetite is a good sign that someone’s health is probably improving and dysphagia can also improve over time. Just because someone is on a soft diet for awhile after stroke doesn’t mean its permanent. I’m not sure I anwered your question but I hope this helped. I’m a speech pathologist with 12 years experience working in hospitals and rehabs with people with strokes and head injury. Checkout my new support group if you’d like more info. or email me at
A 60 yrs old post stroke has place in low sodium diet/soft diet with dysphagia aphasia but with good appetite?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gardening is Good Therapy

Many of us garden just for the sheer joy of it. But did you know that all over the country the healing aspects of gardening are being used as therapy or as an adjunct to therapy?

Although this might sound like a new concept, garden therapy has been around for decades. For example, the Garden Therapy Program at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, and in regional hospitals in Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Rome, Thomasville and Savannah, has been helping people for over 40 years through gardening activities known as social and therapeutic horticulture.

So what exactly is social and therapeutic horticulture (or garden therapy)?

According to the article 'Your future starts here: practitioners determine the way ahead' from Growth Point (1999) volume 79, pages 4-5, horticultural therapy is the use of plants by a trained professional as a medium through which certain clinically defined goals may be met. ''Therapeutic horticulture is the process by which individuals may develop well-being using plans and horticulture. This is achieved by active or passive involvement.'

Although the physical benefits of garden therapy have not yet been fully realized through research, the overall benefits are almost overwhelming. For starters, gardening therapy programs result in increased elf-esteem and self-confidence for all participants.

Social and therapeutic horticulture also develops social and work skills, literacy and numeric skills, an increased sense of general well-being and the opportunity for social interaction and the development of independence. In some instances it can also lead to employment or further training or education. Obviously different groups will achieve different results.

Groups recovering from major illness or injury, those with physical disabilities, learning disabilities and mental health problems, older people, offenders and those who misuse drugs or alcohol, can all benefit from the therapeutic aspects of gardening as presented through specific therapy related programs. In most cases, those that experience the biggest impact are vulnerable or socially excluded individuals or groups, including the ill, the elderly, and those kept in secure locations, such as hospitals or prisons.

One important benefit to using social and therapeutic horticulture is that traditional forms of communication aren't always required. This is particularly important for stroke patients, car accident victims, those with cerebral palsy, aphasia or other illnesses or accidents that hinder verbal communication. Gardening activities lend themselves easily to communicative disabled individuals. This in turn builds teamwork, self-esteem and self-confidence, while encouraging social interaction.

Another group that clearly benefits from social and therapeutic horticulture are those that misuse alcohol or substances and those in prison. Teaching horticulture not only becomes a life skill for these individuals, but also develops a wide range of additional benefits.

Social and therapeutic horticultures gives these individuals a chance to participate in a meaningful activity, which produces food, in addition to creating skills relating to responsibility, social skills and work ethic.

The same is true for juvenile offenders. Gardening therapy, as vocational horticulture curriculum, can be a tool to improve social bonding in addition to developing improved attitudes about personal success and a new awareness of personal job preparedness.

The mental benefits don't end there. Increased abilities in decision-making and self-control are common themes reported by staff in secure psychiatric hospitals. Reports of increased confidence, self-esteem and hope are also common in this environment.

Prison staff have also noticed that gardening therapy improves the social interaction of the inmates, in addition to improving mutual understanding between project staff and prisoners who shared outdoor conditions of work.

It's interesting that studies in both hospitals and prisons consistently list improving relationships between participants, integrating with the community, life skills and ownership as being some of the real benefits to participants.

But in addition to creating a myriad of emotional and social benefits, the health benefits of being outdoors, breathing in fresh air and doing physical work cannot be overlooked. In most studies, participants noted that fresh air, fitness and weight control where prime benefits that couldn't be overlooked.

Although unable to pin down a solid reason, studies have shown that human being posses an innate attraction to nature. What we do know, is that being outdoors creates feelings of appreciation, tranquility, spirituality and peace. So it would seem, that just being in a garden setting is in itself restorative. Active gardening only heightens those feelings.

With so many positive benefits to gardening, isn't it time you got outside and started tending to your garden? Next time you are kneeling in fresh dirt to pull weeds or plant a new variety of a vegetable or flower, think about the tranquility you feel while being outdoors in your garden. Let the act of gardening sooth and revitalize you. Soak up the positive benefits of tending to your own garden.

If you have someone in your life that could benefit from garden therapy, contact your local health unit to find out more about programs in your area. Not only will the enjoyment of gardening help bond you together, but it will also create numerous positive mental and physical benefits for both of you.

So get gardening today for both your physical and mental health. You'll enjoy the experience so much that you'll immediately thank yourself.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can Aphasia be Cured?

How Long Will the Condition Caused by Stoke or TBI Last?

Dec 19, 2009 Sara E. Lewis

A sudden stoke or traumatic brain injury can be life-altering for many reasons. One of the most frustrating can be the loss of aspects of the ability to communicate with others, called aphasia.
Aphasia occurs when an area of the brain responsible for language is damaged, most often due to stoke or traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Although the loss usually occurs suddenly, aphasia may also progress slowly as a result of brain tumor, dementia or infection. Aphasia may occur at the same time as speech disorders related to coordination and voluntary muscle movement.

It is estimated that about one million people currently have aphasia. The majority of cases result from stroke, usually when a fragment from a blood clot breaks off and travels to the brain. About one-third of people with severe TBI experience aphasia.

How is Aphasia Diagnosed?

When the language centers of the brain are damaged due to the lack of blood and death of brain cells (stroke) or a blow to the head (TBI), aphasia expresses itself as lack of ability to say what one is thinking and inability to recognize or write words. Neurologists and speech therapists gain information about which area of the brain was injured by the type of language mistakes made or the patient’s awareness of language mistakes. They examine aspects of the patient’s ability to speak, understand, and converse.

How Should Caregivers Treat Stoke or TBI Patients with Aphasia?

The most effective treatment is delivered early in the recovery process. Beyond this, caregivers should help the patient use the language skills that he or she still has more effectively. Therapy includes training a person to compensate for skills that are lacking and developing other means of communicating, as with facial expressions or hand movements.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Words, Gestures Translated by Same Brain Regions

The brain regions that have been recognized as a center where words are decoded also are important in interpreting gestures, according to new research funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). The findings suggest these regions may play a broader role in interpreting symbols than previously thought [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106 (49): 20664-69]

"In babies the ability to communicate through gestures precedes spoken language, and you can predict a child's language skills based on the repertoire of his or her gestures during those early months," said NIDCD director James Battey, Jr., MD, PhD. "These findings not only provide compelling evidence regarding where language may have come from, they help explain the interplay that exists between language and gesture as children develop language skills."

Scientists have known that sign language is largely processed in the same regions of the brain as spoken language. These regions include the inferior frontal gyrus (Broca's area) in the front left side of the brain and the posterior temporal region (Wernicke's area) toward the back left side of the brain. Signed and spoken languages activate the same brain regions because they operate in the same way, with their own vocabulary and rules of grammar.

NIDCD researchers collaborated with scientists from Hofstra University School of Medicine, in Hempstead, NY, and San Diego State University, in San Diego, CA, to find out if non-language-related gestures are processed in the same brain regions as language. These hand and body movements are used to convey meaning on their own, without having to be translated into specific words or phrases.

Two types of gestures were considered for the study: pantomimes and emblems. Pantomimes mimic objects or actions, such as unscrewing a jar or juggling balls. Emblems, commonly used in social interactions, signify abstract, usually more emotionally charged concepts than pantomimes. Examples include a hand sweeping across the forehead to indicate that it's hot or a finger to the lips to signify the need to be quiet.

The study involved 20 healthy, English-speaking volunteers. Nine men and 11 women underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they watched video clips of a person acting out one of the gesture types or voicing the phrases that the gestures represent. A control group watched clips of a person using meaningless gestures or speaking pseudo-words that had been chopped up and randomly reorganized so the brain would not interpret them as language.

The participants watched 60 video clips for each of the six stimuli, with the clips presented in 45-second time blocks at a rate of 15 clips per block. A mirror attached to the head enabled each person to watch a video projected on the scanner room wall. The scientists then measured brain activity for each of the stimuli and looked for similarities and differences as well as any communication occurring between individual parts of the brain.

The researchers found that the brain was highly activated in the inferior frontal and posterior temporal areas for the gesture and spoken language stimuli. "If gesture and language were not processed by the same system, you'd have spoken language activating the inferior frontal and posterior temporal areas and gestures activating other parts of the brain, but we found virtual overlap," said senior author Allen Braun, MD.

Current thinking in the study of language is that the posterior temporal region serves as a storehouse of words from which the inferior frontal gyrus selects the most appropriate match, like an online search engine that pops up the most suitable Web site at the top of the search results. Rather than being limited to deciphering words alone, the researchers suggested, these regions may be able to apply meaning to any incoming symbols-words, gestures, images, sounds or objects.

These regions also may present a clue into how language evolved, Dr. Braun said. "Our results fit a longstanding theory that says the common ancestor of humans and apes communicated through meaningful gestures, and over time the brain regions that processed gestures became adapted for using words. If the theory is correct, our language areas may actually be the remnant of this ancient communication system-one that continues to process gestures as well as language in the human brain."

Developing a better understanding of the brain systems that support gestures and words may help in the treatment of some patients with aphasia, he added.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Music Therapy and Aphasia

Harvey Alter, president and founder of the International Aphasia Movement
Aphasia Support Group, St. Vincent's
Marymount Aphasia Group
St. Vincent's Aphasia Therapy Group

What would you think if you met a person who had lost his ability to speak after having a stroke, but who could sing with perfect clarity? Harvey Alter, president and founder of the International Aphasia Movement.

What would you think if you met a person who had lost his ability to speak after having a stroke, but who could sing with perfect clarity?

Harvey Alter, president and founder of the International Aphasia Movement, spoke regarding his first-hand experience on music's power to heal at the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function's 2008 Music Has Power Awards Benefit.

To find out more about the therapeutic use of music in speech rehabilitation, visit or call (718) 519-5840.
Category: Music
Aphasia Music Therapy Neurologic Function Harvey Alter
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With creative strategies, one man recovers from a devastating stroke.

I just saw an amazing video on You Tube of one man's recovery from a stroke. After suffering a stroke on the left side of his brain, Harvey Alter could no longer speak, a condition called aphasia. He understood language but could respond to questions only by blinking his eyes as a code for "yes" and "no." As he says in the video, "Your mind and your mouth don't match." For two years, despite speech therapy, he remained speechless, and without spoken language, he had trouble completing his thoughts. Then, a dedicated and clever therapist decided to try a technique called "Melodic Intonation Therapy." Starting with the simple song, "Happy Birthday," Harvey Alter learned to talk again.

Even though Mr. Alter could not speak the words to Happy Birthday, he could sing them using the undamaged right side of his brain. So, with much practice and discipline, Mr. Alter learned to transfer his thoughts through music into speech. Listen to him on the You Tube video. His speech is completely understandable and clear. He appears to be methodically enunciating one syllable after another, but in his mind, he is singing the words.

I was deeply moved by this video. Mr. Alter teaches us that rehabilitation may require thinking "outside the box." Mr. Alter's recovery was made possible by a creative therapist who would not give up on him and by Mr. Alter himself who had to work hard at a new way of speaking. As with my own vision therapy, I have learned over and over again that a motivated individual, using innovative strategies, can sometimes recover in ways that even the smartest scientists and doctors think impossible.

Note: Harvey Alter is the Founder and President of the International Aphasia Movement.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Meet Deb: an ARTC success story


A dult day programs are one of the community's best-kept secrets.

Can you imagine what life would be like if you were faced with a chronic, long-term condition, such as stroke, aphasia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's or dementia, that affected your ability to be independent? Or can you imagine your life as a caregiver trying to help your loved one navigate through this process?

A change in health status due to illness, a progressive disease, or condition of aging often leaves individuals and their families in uncharted waters, especially if family members assume the duties of becoming the caregiver for their loved one.

For individuals who find themselves in this situation, help is available. There are community agencies, which are able to reduce the responsibility placed on families and assist individuals so that they may remain independent.

These community support agencies vary from city to city, but all have the common goal of keeping people in their own homes. In Brantford, one such agency is the Adult Recreation Therapy Centre. ARTC is a community-based adult day program, and one of the 18 member agencies of Brant United Way.

The adult day program at ARTC is available to help individuals with comprised health conditions remain independent and living in the community.

ARTC helps individuals keep active and involved by participating in various activities, innovative programs, and a full range of individual and group exercises. The centre has trained professional staff including recreation therapists, a kinesiologist and speech language pathologists, who work as a team to help clients live life to the fullest by providing them with meaningful activity and opportunity to re-engage in the community. The programs offered by ARTC help individuals maintain not only their physical ability but their cognitive and social functioning, enabling them to remain independent.

Deb is one of ARTC's success stories. In 2003, Deb suffered an aneurysm and spent two years in the hospital. After receiving rehabilitation in the hospital, she was released with a referral to ARTC in 2005. Since attending ARTC, Deb has conquered depression and organized her life. She moved out of a house she shared with her daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren to an apartment of her own with minimal support. She has become independent and now does her own banking, cooking, laundry, and shopping. She attends church, participates in wheelchair curling and enjoys getting out in the community. During her participation at ARTC, Deb has made friends, and helped start the stroke support group. She has also learned how to paint with her non-dominant hand and has relearned computer skills. With the help of ARTC staff, Deb has learned to use the resources available to her in the community. Deb feels very good about herself today and attributes much of her success to the ongoing support and encouragement she receives from ARTC. Deb continues to work daily on remaining independent and is thankful for the support she has received through her journey.

Adult day programs, such as the Adult Recreation Therapy Centre, offer a win-win situation for everyone involved. Individuals whose health status is impaired are able to participate in programs with others affected in similar ways; offering peer support and encouragement to each other. Caregivers, often the unsung heroes, feel less burdened and more at-ease when they know their loved one is involved in a support program.

In Brantford, ARTC is located at 408 Henry St. The centre runs programs Monday through Saturday including a Tuesday night program. Referral to the program can be made through direct contact with the centre or through the Brant CCAC office. The centre also has a satellite site in Paris located at the Willett for individuals living in Brant County. This program runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For more information about the various programs and services offered at ARTC call 519- 753-1882.

The Brant United Way is proud to have the Adult Recreation Therapy Centre as one of its member agencies. The programs they provide in our community make this a stronger and more caring community.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

SmallTalk aphasia 1.0.4

Category: Medical

Price: Free (iTunes)
Version: 1.0.3 -> 1.0.4


Designed for people with aphasia––an impairment of the ability to speak–– SmallTalk provides a vocabulary of pictures and videos that talk in a natural human voice.

SmallTalk contains a starter set of icons to introduce you to the Lingraphica system of aphasia communication. When used together with the Lingraphica speech-generating device, it allows you to personalize and expand the vocabulary to thousands of words.

This aphasia software lets you take along a set of words and phrases to use in everyday situations such as shopping, doctor's appointments, phone conversations, or emergencies. It's an easy way to make your wishes known or simply practice frequently used words.

SmallTalk also contains mouth-position videos for practice and self-cuing, great for stroke rehabilitation and recovery of speech.

What’s New

Fixes to scrolling issues
SmallTalk aphasia

SmallTalk aphasia 1.0.4SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Disability & Rehabilitation

1996, Vol. 18, No. 5, Pages 238-240
Frenchay Aphasia Screening Test: validity and comparability P. Enderby and E. Crow
Correspondence: Dr P. Enderby, Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, BS16 1LE, UK

The Frenchay Aphasia Screening Test1 is a reliable test which can be used by non-specialists to discriminate between aphasia and normal language. Preliminary studies have shown good test—retest reliability, and the test itself is quick and simple to use. The present investigation examines the validity of the test by comparing the results of this test with those on more structured, detailed and frequently used assessments of aphasia the Minnesota Test for Differential Diagnosis of Aphasia (MTDDA) and general performance in communication as reflected by the Functional Communication Profile. The results demonstrate a positive correlation between the tests, and this allows confidence in the use of this test by non-specialists as a screening instrument.

References | PDF (239 KB) | PDF Plus (105 KB)
Disability & RehabilitationSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Football helps Challenger athletes grow

By Stephen Hart

December 08, 2009, 10:00AM
staten-island-lions-12-08-09.jpgThe Staten Island Lions, from left: Vincent DeBernardo, Joe Tripodi, Alexa DeAnglis, Sean Quirh, Erica Block , Frankie Celi, Brianna Gaglia, Daniel Block and Pasquale Tulino with coach Rick Clark and daughter Mackenzie, who is the team buddy.
Like many 12-year-olds from around these parts, Daniel Block’s favorite football player is the New York Giants’ Eli Manning. And Daniel even gets to emulate Manning on game days for his flag football squad, sharing quarterback duties with a few of his teammates.

“We share ... and we play together ... and we communicate with each other,” said Block of his football-playing experience.

Block and the rest of the Staten Island Lions enjoy the sport, and the camaraderie that goes with it, as much as the kids who compete for the other youth leagues in the area.

And that’s just one of the reasons why the parents of these Challenger Division athletes are so happy this 2-year-old program is in existence.

“It gives them a sense of purpose, because their whole life is going to therapy,” said Prince’s Bay resident Pat Tulino, whose 12-year-old son Pasquale, a player for the Lions, has a neurological disorder called apraxia.

“This gives them a semblance of being ‘normal'.”

The Challenger Division is geared specifically for boys and girls ages 5 through 15 with a wide range of disabilities. The Staten Island Lions are one of 28 Challenger teams that compete in the Central Jersey Pop Warner League.

Playing flag football “gives these kids that feeling of competition, while having fun at the same time,” noted Michelle Block of Charleston, whose son Daniel has Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.

On Thursday, the group will be having fun competing in the Pop Warner Super Bowl at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. The trip is being sponsored by the Atlas Foundation, Spirit Student Tours and the Antique Auto Club of Staten Island.

“Teams from as far as California will be participating,” said Rick Clark, director of the Challenger program for the Staten Island Lions. “Our kids will play one game on Thursday; it’ll probably be about an hour long.”

Regardless of the length of that game, or the length of the season — which consists of six games from August to December — not only will the memories last but so, too, the positive lessons learned.

For Eden Quirk of Tottenville, that includes improved social skills for her 10½-year-old son Sean, who has a rare genetic disease called tuberous sclerosis.

“While school is something that’s completely structured for them, this is only partially so. One of the best things about this is the kids get a lot of exercise,” said Eden, whose son can hear but communicates through sign language.

“He really doesn’t understand being competitive; he just knows he’s running around the field with his friends, chasing after a flag and having fun.”

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